Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone. I hope your holiday is safe and restful and full of all the things for which you are thankful.

See you next Wednesday with a visit with another talented author.

God Bless.

Barb

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Writers Wednesday: Debut Author-GH Finalist Arlene Hittle



I’m happy to welcome another debut author, 2011 RWA Golden Heart finalist Arlene Hittle, whose debut DIVA IN THE DUGOUT was released in October. Hi Arlene. So glad you're here. I've downloaded DIVA, and I'm hoping to devote some of my Thanksgiving break to reading it. I've heard nothing but good things about the book--and not just from baseball fans. LOL. Please tell us a little about it.

In DIVA IN THE DUGOUT, Arizona Condors shortstop Dave Reynolds faces the toughest test yet: fatherhood.
  
After a successful stint in drug rehab, Dave is still trying to outrun his bad boy reputation. When the team's new owners tell him to shape up or be fired at season's end, he vows to change. He doesn't count on fatherhood playing a part in his transformation.

Melinda Cline makes a rash decision: take solace in the arms of a sexy-as-sin ballplayer whose name she insists she doesn't want to know. Big mistake. Now a single mom to a four-year-old, Mel strives to live as quietly and cleanly as possible. But fate intervenes and she comes face to face with the man who insists on being included in their daughter's life. The attraction between them is still strong, but it may not survive Dave's reputation or his attempts to do the right thing.

Can the Condors' bad boy step up to the plate and knock out a home run for fatherhood? And if he does, will his daughter's mamma be ready?

What drew you to this story?


When BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER was selected as a finalist in the 2011 RWA Golden Heart (Contemporary Series), one of my first thoughts — after OMG, OMG, OMG — was if that is going to be my successful manuscript, it’d better have a companion. Luckily, BEAUTY had always been part of a series in the back of my mind — a baseball team has nine positions, after all!

The hero in BEAUTY, Matt, is adamant that the pregnant heroine, Meg, tell the ex who’d run out on her about the baby. His buddy Dave’s story is the reason why. So I’d already mentioned it in passing. I just had to take those few paragraphs and use them to craft a series-length novel.

It helped that I’ve always been a sucker for a “secret baby” story. It was fun to imagine how an unwitting father would react to the surprise, and how the mother would handle his intrusion into her — and their daughter’s — life.

Secret baby stories are so popular. Would you share an excerpt?

This scene is from the day Dave meets his four-year-old daughter, Tara, for the first time. They’re at a Chuck E. Cheese-type pizza place, playing games, while Melinda watches from the table.

Dave watched Tara’s third straight ball drop into the center ring. “You’re pretty good.”
Tara giggled. “You too, Daddy.”

“Not as good as you.” He couldn’t believe how hard it was to hit a target no more than five yards away. His arm was made for distance throwing.
Either that or you’re losing your touch.
Dave refused to dignify that thought with a response. It’d be a cold day in hell when he couldn’t even play skee ball. He checked his watch. “The pizza’ll be ready any minute. Let’s sit down.”
Tara shook her head.
“No?” Well, hell. He didn’t want to have to go fetch Lin to get Tara back to the table. What kind of impression would it make if he couldn’t even wrangle his girl to the table for dinner?
“Have to potty and wash up first.”

So she wasn’t just being willful. Relief surged through him. “Great idea, kiddo.”

He spotted the “restrooms” sign on the far wall and headed that way, Tara in tow. He stopped mid-stride and Tara smacked into his leg. Was he supposed to take her into the men’s bathroom?
“Maybe your mom should take you.”
She shook her head. “You.”

“You’re a girl.”

Tara frowned. “So?”
“So I can’t go in your bathroom.”

“I’ll go in yours.”

The more Dave considered that, the worse it sounded. What if someone else was at the His little girl wouldn’t see some stranger’s equipment on his watch. “No way.”
Her lip started to stick out. Dave gulped. Was that the pout or the beginning of an honest-to-god fit? He didn’t want to find out.
“We’ll use yours.” He grabbed her hand again as she made a beeline for the bathrooms.
His relief was palpable when presented with a third option, the “family” restroom. He pushed on the door, but it didn’t budge.
Crap. There went the easy out.
Tara started for the women’s bathroom. “Gotta go.”
“You can’t wait until this one’s open?”
“Now.”
With a shake of her head and stamp of her foot, Tara walked into the women’s restroom.
Dave had no choice. It was either follow her or let her go by herself. She was still too young for that, right?
He glanced around guiltily and then slipped through the door. Thank God it was empty. “You can go by yourself?”
 “Yes, Daddy.” She disappeared into the stall and soon he heard a tinkling noise.
Eeew. He felt creepy listening to someone pee—even if that someone was his daughter.
He shoved his hands in his pockets and leaned against the wall, wondering if his pizza was getting cold. As he contemplated the horrors of congealed cheese, the door swung open and thunked his shoulder.
“Eeeee—”
A kid ran back out of the room, screaming. “Mommy, there’s a man in the bathroom!”
Uh-oh. That couldn’t be good. “Tara, you almost done?”
 “Uh-huh.”
He heard a flush and she came out of the stall still pulling up her shorts. At the same time, the bathroom door opened again and a burly guy in a Pizza Palace uniform glowered at him.
 “What’s going on in here?” the big guy demanded. His nametag declared him to be Chuck.
Dave yanked his hands out of his pockets. He needn’t have bothered. He didn’t look any less creepy. He was still a grown man in the women’s restroom—and this time he wasn’t there for a quickie with some hot chick he’d just met.
He gave Chuck his “I’m a good ol’ boy” grin and pointed at Tara. “She had to go to the bathroom and the family one was occupied.”

The employee’s glare didn’t waver until he stooped to address Tara. “Where’s your mommy?”

“She’s not feelin’ good.” Tara leaned forward and whispered, “I think Daddy scares her.”
“Does he scare you, too, sweetheart?” Chuck asked Tara while giving Dave the stinkeye.
She giggled and hugged Dave’s leg. “Uh-uh. He’s the bestest.”

Chuck rose back to his full height. Then he looked from him to his daughter and back again. His hands clenched and unclenched at his sides, like he was itching for a fight. “If you’re sure...”
“I am.” Dave put his hand on Tara’s head and gave the guy a level look. He didn’t want a fight. While he and Chuck were evenly matched in height, the guy probably outweighed him by fifty pounds.
Tara nodded. “Me too.”
Tara ducked under Chuck’s arm and ran out the door. Dave started to follow, but the other man held up his hand.
“Dude, don’t hang out in the women’s bathroom.”

“It was an emergency.”

He shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. Next time, we’ll call the cops.”

Arrested in a kiddie pizza place? That’d do his reputation no favors.
Dave shuddered. “Message received.”
  
Love the excerpt. I think this is going to have to move up my Kindle play list. You talked about nine positions on a baseball team. Is your next project part of that series? 

Turquoise Morning Press will release BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER in March 2014, and a still-untitled Book 3 in my “All’s Fair in Love and Baseball” series in April 2014 ... just in time for a new baseball season.

I’m also independently releasing a holiday novella, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, this month, and hope to put out two full-length novels in 2014.

So glad your GH final title is coming up next. Congratulations on the developing series. What one tip would you offer writers?

Persistence pays.

Sure, it sounds like a cliché, but sayings become well-worn for a reason: They’re recognizable, universal truths. Writers have to stick with it, learn what they can from rejections (even when they sting at first), and develop their craft.

DIVA isn’t the first manuscript I finished. It’s not even the second. It’s number six or seven. Maybe even eight. They all start to blur together after a while. The earlier ones are publishable (I hope), but it took considerable reworking to get them there. The first draft of that first manuscript wouldn’t recognize itself today.  

That is so important for all of us writers to remember. Sometimes we feel crushed if our first manuscript doesn't sell immediately. It might seem, because you're writing a series, that your plots are "built in." But I understand they're not. How do your stories come to you at first--through characters, setting, story line?
 
Like many writers, I play the “what if” game. What if the Arizona Condors’ bad boy shortstop suddenly found out he was a father? What if the child’s mother is still the sexiest one-night stand of his life? What if she finds him irresistible, too?

Once the creative juices are flowing, the scenes tend to unfurl in my head like a play, mostly dialogue. I deepen description and describe the characters’ feelings in subsequent drafts.

Apparently I’m not alone. I’ve heard other authors say they write the same way.

You're absolutely right. I love it when the scenes come almost naturally. Thanks so much for visiting today. Best of luck with your first book. I hope you'll come back to visit when BEAUTY is released.

Find DIVA IN THE DUGOUT at Turquoise Morning Press, Smashwords, All Romance Ebooks, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Smashwords will begin distributing to Kobo, iTunes and other e-tailers soon.

About Arlene:


Arlene Hittle is a Midwestern transplant who now makes her home in northern Arizona. She suffers from the well-documented Hittle family curse of being a Cubs fan, but will root for the Diamondbacks until they run up against the Cubs. Longtime friends are amazed she writes books with sports in them, since she’s about as coordinated as a newborn giraffe and used to say marching band required more exertion than golf. Find her at http://arlenehittle.com, on Twitter at http://twitter.com/arlenehittle or on Facebook at Arlene Hittle, Author.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Writers Wednesday:Lyn Horner Sets the Stage for Christmas With Cookies

We're celebrating winter (I hope a bit early) and Christmas with Lyn Horner, whose short story is all about Christmas cookies. A Northerner by birth, Lyn says she loves the holidays and she especially appreciates the differences in season between her early home Minnesota and her current residence in Texas. Welcome, Lyn. Looking forward to your comparisons.

Hi Barbara. You know, autumn in Texas can be kind of drab compared to autumn in Minnesota, where I was raised. Up there, you’re more likely to see bright red and orange displays, mixed with the evergreen pines and fur trees. Down here where I live in Fort Worth, most leaves turn duller shades of orange or brown. However, there are exceptions, as shown by the two photos below. 

                                                 Beautiful Red Maple in Texas Autumn


                                                   Fall foliage along a sparkling creek

Our winter landscape tends to look barren and brown, except when a rare snow storm blows in. Then everything is magically transformed into a wintery fairyland. But it doesn’t last. As soon as temps climb above freezing, usually within a day or two, the snow melts and we return to normal. Normal for this part of Texas, that is.

                                           Dry browns of winter beneath a bright blue sky


A temporary frosting of snow

That’s down here in North Central Texas. If one travels northwest to the panhandle it’s a different story. Hardy residents of that high plains region sometimes suffer severe blizzards. In late February 2013, a storm carrying hurricane force winds brought whiteout conditions, knocked out power for thousands, caused numerous accidents and left motorists stranded.


Such storms can also cause ranchers to lose cattle. Calves are prone to group along fences and suffocate under the snow. Cattle on feedlots may lose weight due to the cold. Here's a photo of a Texas longhorn grazing in snowy field

**All photos were obtained by the author from dreamstime.com.

Now I’d like to give you a peek at my recent release, Christmas Cookies for Tristan.

Blurb: Tristan Jameson isn’t happy to attend a stuffy New York Christmas party, but when Charlotte Dixon walks in, the evening promises unexpected excitement. A tin of homemade Christmas cookies helps bring the two of them togeth

Excerpt:

Tristan tensed when he saw a striking auburn-haired woman hand her coat to a butler in the penthouse foyer and walk into the crowded living room. He’d never met her, he was certain, yet he felt instantly drawn to her. Despite his avoidance of female companionship over the past two years, his pulse quickened and the chatter of partygoers faded away as he watched her.

She wore a cranberry red dress with tiny cap sleeves that went surprisingly well with her mahogany hair. Smiling brightly, she exchanged air kisses with Johanna Cantrell, their hostess and Tristan’s distant cousin, who had opened up her lavish Park Avenue suite for this early Christmas party. So gracious of her, everyone agreed. Of course they all knew tonight’s party was aimed at garnering backers for the lady’s upcoming mayoral campaign.

The redhead had arrived unescorted. Was she a personal friend of Johanna’s or some high-placed business executive who might be convinced to throw her support behind the candidate? Tristan doubted it was the latter. She didn’t look old enough to fill such a role.

Curious to discover her identity, he edged his way through the crowd and followed the woman down a hall toward the kitchen, admiring the slender curves revealed by her subtly flowing skirt. Members of the catering staff buzzed past like worker bees, carrying empty food trays to be refilled and filled ones back out to the buffet table in the spacious living room, or salon as Cousin Johanna called it.

Pausing in the kitchen’s open doorway, Tristan leaned against the door jam and observed the redhead as she held out a large Christmas tin to a portly, bearded man in a white chef’s uniform. 

“Please arrange these cookies on a tray and set them out with the other desserts,” she said in a low, smoky voice reminiscent of actress Kathleen Turner’s.

The man scowled. “Madame, I personally prepare all food for every event I cater, including the desserts.”

“Oh, but I baked these especially for tonight as a gift for Jo . . . I mean Mrs. Cantrell. She told me to bring them back here for you to serve.”

“I doubt that, young woman,” the pompous ass sneered. “That good woman knows I never allow anything prepared by another hand to be served at one of my events.”

“Are you calling me a liar?” The redhead’s voice shook slightly, either with distress or anger.

What a delightful post, Lyn. A great description of autumn and winter in Texas and a terrific glimpse of your Christmas Cookies. Best of luck with your story. Now, you all will have to excuse me. All this talk of cookies is sending for a snack.

Celebrate the Holidays with Christmas Cookies for Tristan. Available on Amazon exclusively for Kindle: 



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writers Wednesday:FREE BOOK--Dawn Luedecke Spotlights Her New Western


Today I get to welcome another talented Wild Rose author Dawn Luedecke, whose Western BIG SKY BRAZEN is FREE on Amazon right now. Yep, through Nov. 9, you can download her brand new book for just a smile. BIG SKY BRAZEN was released September 24 on Kindle. 

So glad you're here today, Dawn. There's been wonderful response to your book. Readers do love Westerns. Please tell us a little about it. 

Here's the blurb:
 After discovering her horses missing, DeEtte hunts the man who stole them, only to discover things aren't as they seem. Her adventures lead to Bozeman where she joins up with a cattle drive north - a lawless place run by a cattle baron society. John, the man who stole her horses and broke her heart, trails after her. Many difficulties arise that prevent him from wooing the headstrong woman -- from two-timing outlaws, to deadly secrets, and finally to DeEttes ability to find trouble in any situation. John needs to settle his score with a man from Texas, protect DeEtte from not only outlaws but also determined suitors, and convince her trust him enough to marry. Can he clear his name and keep her from running head first into a range war and possible death?

You had me at cattle drives and outlaws. I can't wait. What drew you to this story? 

I wanted to write a story for my sisters. I began with my youngest sister, Dusty, in ‘To Tame a Montana Heart’. This story, ‘Big Sky Brazen’, is my sister DeEttes story. She’s tiny and sweet, but thinks she is big and tough, so I wanted to give her a story where she kicked some ass.

That is so sweet. Would you share an excerpt?

This is my favorite excerpt from the story:
“So what are you in for, doll?” The woman in the corner with lemon-yellow hair, asked. “Did ya kill
someone?” A raspy, harsh cackle followed. The malicious sound of the yellow-haired woman’s laugh
convinced DeEtte that this particular whore had stopped caring long ago.

DeEtte’s eyelashes rose and she looked at the scantily dressed women in the corner. She took a deep
breath and watched the two with a blank face, although her insides were bubbling like a spring from a
mountainside.

“Yep,” she said and pursed her lips. She tilted herhead to the side and stared at the women with what she hoped was the hollow eyes of a cold-blooded killer.

Without the slightest hint of surprise, the blond responded, “How’d you do it?”

The prostitute motioned to the woman beside her. “Rosie here stabbed the yellow-bellied sidewinder
when she finally had enough of his right hook, didn’t you, Rosie.” The blonde looked at the other woman, leaned back on her cot, and turned back to DeEtte. “I helped hide the body, but damned if they didn’t catch us just as we dumped him in the river.” She chuckled to herself. “His body may be cold, but his soul is burnin' in hell, and that’s the truth of it…ain’t it, Rosie.”

The talkative woman rose to her feet, took two steps toward DeEtte, and held out her hand. “Name’s
Mona. Did you take over Rosie’s job at the Last Chance?”

DeEtte grasped Mona’s rough, callused hands and nodded. She noticed the slight tremor as she shook it hard. She may talk as if she doesn't care, but she’s deeply affected by her lifestyle choice.

“So, who’d you kill?” Mona asked as she returned to her seat.

Rosie’s lips curved in a snarl. “Probably a john, like we did.”

DeEtte tried to bring a curious glint to her eyes, like she’d seen in a few unsavory characters in the past, and hoped it worked to convince the women. “Na, I
killed my sister.”

The occupants in the small cell grew silent as they studied her face.

The look on Mona’s face told of her emotions, from skepticism to acceptance, as clear as the mirror
hanging above the saloon’s countertop. Mona sized her up, eyeing her, then lifted her head and kicked the corners of her mouth up in a smile. “What she do, steal your man?”

“Nope. She stole my boots,” DeEtte lied.

DeEtte sat on the cot opposite the women and stretched her feet out on the floor. When she leaned back again against the wall, her breasts strained against the tight red fabric of her low-cut silk dress.
“You kilt your sister ’cause she stole your boots?” Rosie repeated. Her tone sounded curious, but without real emotion.

“Yep.” DeEtte looked up at the ceiling, dirty from years of filth and dust.

Without giving an explanation, she let the silence grow. Both women watched her, waiting and
wondering, by the looks on their faces.

DeEtte wanted the women to remember her as the mysterious murdering madam, suspicious to everyone. A cold-blooded killer. However, she just couldn’t take it anymore. Exhaling forcibly, she sat up and stared into the eyes of the prostitutes to begin the tale of how she’d
killed her older sister.

Oh, my. I hope your sister likes it. She probably smiles at that scene. What’s your next project?

I am currently working on a western titled WHITE WATER PASSION. It is about a logging company and the rough and tumble men who worked the rivers. They were said to have a ‘devil may care attitude’, but everyone knows those are the best men to wrangle and tame. ;) 

I am also working on book 3 in the Montana Girl Series titled MONTANA BOUND. This will be Justine (aka Daylene) and Sacred Eagle Feather’s story. Complete with train robberies, prissy ladies thrown into the wild, and political intrigue. I love it!

They both sound exciting. Hope they'll be out soon. What one tip would you offer writers?

Never give up! A little rum and some Toby Keith’s ‘The Critique’ and you’ll be back to writing in no time after that bad review/critique.

How do your stories ‘come to you’ at first--through characters, setting, story line?

I usually get my idea and the way my characters will fit in on some random day doing ordinary things, but when it comes down to plotting, I do my best thinking as I’m trying to fall asleep and when I’m in the shower—you know…those times when it’s most inconvenient to jot the idea down.

Ah, yes. When you have a pen and notebook right by your side LOL. Other that the shower, do you have a special place you like to write?

In my husband’s recliner, but I’m working on trying to get an office and feng-shui it to perfection.

Feng-shui? Hmmm. Sounds intriguing. During an ordinary day, do you have challenges with finding writing time?

Uck, that is the challenge. When I don’t have a day job, I get all the time in the world during the day when my children are either asleep, or at school. When I do have a day job, I write whenever I can. I hope to be able to get into a work day schedule where I work Monday-Friday from 9-5. 

Good luck with the job search. But meanwhile, it's good that you have lots of writing time. I'm sure all your sisters would like to have their stories as soon as possible. Thanks so much for being here today, Dawn and best of luck with the release. I hope you’ll come back again. 

Here is a little more about Dawn and where you can find her online.


A country girl born and bred, Dawn Luedecke has spent most of her life surrounded by horses, country folk, and the wild terrain of Nevada, Idaho and Montana. As a child she would spend many afternoons reading books, watching western classics, and Rogers and Hammerstein movies. When she grew up she decided to leave the quiet country life for a chance to find adventure by serving a successful tour in the United States Coast Guard. During that time she found her soul mate (and alpha male) and started a family and writing career. She enjoys writing historical and paranormal romance and spends as much time as she can working on her current manuscript. For more information visit www.dawnluedecke.com.


 Buy Links
The Wild Rose Press ebook
The Wild Rose Press print
http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=191&products_id=5418
Amazon kindle edition
http://www.amazon.com/Big-Brazen-Montana-Girl-ebook/dp/B00FDSR0RU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383409673&sr=8-1&keywords=big+sky+brazen
Amazon paperback edition
http://www.amazon.com/Big-Sky-Brazen-Dawn-Luedecke/dp/1612179193/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1383409673&sr=8-1
Barnes and Noble ebook

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